£1 billion hope for Yorkshire

A £1 billion pound scientific project, which is set to lead the world in its field and create thousands of jobs, could be developed in the Yorkshire region in the UK.

A site measuring 221 hectares (539 acres) at Burn airfield, near Selby, North Yorkshire, could be home to the world’s largest neutron scattering facility, called the European Spallation Source (ESS).

A partnership has been forged between the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward, and the White Rose University Consortium (the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York) to try and make this vision for the region a reality.

The Yorkshire ESS team (YESS) submitted an application for outline planning permission for the development of the site to Selby District Council on 12 May 2005, in a bid to develop this exciting and ambitious project.

Research carried out by Yorkshire Forward indicates that the building of a major science facility would have a major jobs boost for the region and the local area. During construction, it is estimated that up to 2,000 jobs would be created for people in the Selby region. And when built, the ESS would employ around 1,000 scientists, technicians, engineers and support staff.

Europe has led the world in neutron scattering for 30 years, but many of its existing research facilities are coming to the end of their lifetimes. The demand for neutron scattering is growing and Europe will soon lose its lead – there are currently two new spallation sources being built in Japan and America that will be operational in the next few years. The European facility would be much more powerful.

Professor Bob Cywinski of the University of Leeds, and scientific advisor to the YESS team, said: “The building of the ESS in Yorkshire would create the world’s largest and most advanced science facility for the investigation of essential materials, such as medicines, proteins, ceramics and metals, that we rely on in our every day lives – in unprecedented detail.

“By looking at how these important materials are put together we will be able to understand in more depth their properties and behaviour, and therefore be able to improve these materials for the benefit of science, technology, medicine and the environment,” added Professor Cywinski.

There are several bids from across Europe to host the ESS – from Germany , Sweden and a further bid from Hungary was recently unveiled. The YESS team is working to make the Yorkshire site the most attractive of the options: the site has been acquired and an application for outline planning permission to develop the site has been submitted to Selby District Council.

For the ESS to be built, a firm commitment from the UK government is needed to set aside funds that would secure the project for Yorkshire.

If the bid for the ESS is not successful, there are still plans to develop an alternative scientific research facility on the site.